Faculty advancement: a chance to celebrate

October 12, 2016

Interim Dean John Hunter, M.D., F.A.C.S., and members from the OHSU School of Medicine Promotion and Tenure Committee hosted the annual reception Oct. 5 in honor of the faculty members promoted, appointed or receiving tenure in 2016.

"It is a testament to real achievement to get promoted and that's why we spend so much time" reviewing and selecting faculty as part of the work of the committee, said Promotion and Tenure Committee Chair Dave Ellison, M.D., professor of medicine, OHSU School of Medicine.

Promotion and tenure reception, 2016, John Hunter, Dave EllisonA total of 67 faculty members were promoted, two of whom received a promotion and tenure. An additional two faculty members received tenure at their current rank. With 35 women and 32 men promoted, this is the first time in at least five years that women outpaced men in promotions. In addition, 16 faculty members received appointments.

Dr. Hunter thanked Dr. Ellison and remembered Dean Mark Richardson, who played a key and thoughtful role on the committee throughout his tenure as dean.

"As faculty, we are all mission driven," Dr. Hunter said, "whether it be the desire to find a better treatment for a pernicious disease, educate students prepared to lead in a rapidly changing health care environment or improve preventive measures to support health in at-risk communities. Rarely do we take a moment to reflect on and celebrate our accomplishments. Tonight is an opportunity to do that."

Several department chairs took a moment to introduce and acknowledge the accomplishments of their faculty receiving promotions or tenure.

Promotion and tenure reception, 2016, George Keepers, Jennifer LoftisGeorge Keepers, M.D., chair of psychiatry, OHSU School of Medicine, introduced Jennifer Loftis, Ph.D., who is promoted to professor.

"Dr. Loftis is a nationally prominent investigator in the field of psychoneuroimmunology who maintains an innovative translational research program that has been continuously funded by federal grants since 2001, which, I will point out, was the year before she was awarded her Ph.D.," Dr. Keepers said.

Yet he described her as "the antithesis of the selfish scientist." Dr. Loftis, he said, is an outstanding teacher who has instructed students at OHSU, the Oregon State Hospital and the VA, supervises graduate students and post-docs and is one of the most active faculty in OHSU's high school mentoring program.

Dr. Loftis shared her story, which began when the late Dr. Fred Risinger in the Department of Behavioral Neuroscience let her volunteer in his lab on weekends, recording mouse drinking volumes as part of an alcohol addiction study.

"This opportunity might sound trivial – and potentially tedious – to some, but I was thrilled and looked forward to my weekend trips up the fern- and tree-lined Terwilliger Boulevard to OHSU," Dr. Loftis said.

Promotion and tenure reception, 2016, Dave Dorr, Bill Hersh, Karen EdenShe filled out her story by acknowledging faculty, including Dr. Keepers, who mentored her at each step of the way. Today her VA- and NIH-funded research program investigates neuro-immunological mechanisms that contribute to psychiatric symptoms and cognitive impairments related to substance abuse and chronic viral infection. The goal: better therapies for substance abuse disorders.

Dana Braner, M.D., F.A.A.P., F.C.C.M., chair of pediatrics, OHSU School of Medicine, introduced his faculty member with a confession.

"As a pediatrician, I know it's wrong to have a favorite child," he said. "But I do, and it is Cindy Ferrell."

Dr. Braner described Cindy Ferrell, M.D., F.A.A.P., as a highly skilled, tireless and devoted clinician and teacher of the next generation of pediatricians. Dr. Ferrell is promoted to professor.

Dr. Ferrell acknowledged and thanked her mentors and OHSU for allowing her to do the things that she is good at and that she loves to do.

"Thank you to everyone who helped me along the way to being promoted," she said. "It's a good feeling."